With the leaves fading from green to gold, there is no better time to take in all the beautiful sights nature has to offer than in the fall. Rather than just exploring around your local area, why not take a road trip through the southern mountains to really get a good view? Although there are many roads that lead to several different locations, there is nothing like the Cherohala Skyway. The skyway, which was first opened in 1996, is the costliest road in North Carolina but is rich with amazing views. Come follow along the road that stretches over the Cherokee National Forest all the way to the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. It will only take two to three hours out of your busy day. Check out what it’s like to ride along the Cherohala skyway and start planning your road trip today.
The beginning of your trip is at the entrance of the small, quiet town called Tellico Plains. While people typically pass by, consider stopping to visit for a moment. Try out their local bakery, Tellico Grains Bakery, where you can swing in to grab a sweet treat or try out their wood fired brick oven sandwiches, such as the highly recommended free bird sandwich. In a busy world, it’s nice to press pause and relax for a while.
Cherokee National Forest
Your next stop begins at the heart of the Southern Appalachian mountain range in a forest that is 640,000 acres wide. For those who love taking a hike along a nature trail or playing around in rivers, this is the location for you. It was once met with devastation by loggers but thankfully since then has bounced back. Don’t be surprised if you run into several different wildlife animals. The forest holds 43 species of mammals alone, 154 species of fish, 262 species of birds, and 55 species of amphibians and reptiles! With nature all around you, it’ll be difficult not getting lost in it.
Bald River Falls
For fishermen, this stop might be your favorite. Bald River Falls is a tributary to Little Tennessee River and hosts several different fish such as bass, drum, crappie, carp, catfish, and more. You can also bust out your kayak for an action-packed adventure or even go canoeing/tubing along the currents of the Little Tennessee River. If you are looking for a less wet adventure, be sure to take a hike on the many different trails the spot has to offer. The options for exploring the outdoors are endless, but no matter what you choose, you will be sure to find beautiful, memorable sights.
Indian Boundary Campgrounds
If you decide you want to extend your trip more than just a few hours, consider staying the night at Indian Boundary Campgrounds. Although it is settled within the woods, your site still has modern bathhouses and the option for electrical hookups. However, if you wish to go without electricity, that can be made possible as well. Just don’t forget to bring the bug spray!
As the road gets higher, the views get better. On the Santeetlah Overlook, you can see a magnificent overlook multiple locations including the Appalachian Mountains and the Snowbird, Slickrock, and Joyce Kilmer forests (which you will travel through later). Since it is one of the highest points in the skywall, you can be sure that you can see all the beautiful fall foliage in a clear view you won’t forget.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
A very popular point in the skyway is the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest which honors the poet who wrote the well-known line, “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” Home to 3,800 acres of virgin wilderness with the largest stand of old growth trees in the eastern United States, you will be in awe of all the amazing sights around you. In the fall, these sights are only enhanced, surrounding you in hues of red and yellow that you won’t soon forget.
The best part about a long road trip is that once you reach the end, you can always turn back around to do it all over again!
For more information on different places to explore in the fall, follow our website! We are here to make your next adventure a success.